This past Saturday was the 6th annual Girl Talk: A Celebration of Women's History Month. I began this event because I thought it would be fun. I've continued running it because it is fun. A lot of fun. People say, Oh, it must take so much time to put this together. I am not being modest when I say that it does not take much time to put it together. It's held at my local library, so I don't have to clean my house. I ask for volunteers to bake cookies and others to bring beverages. I always get more than enough. The library staff sets up the room for us and arranges for two volunteers to handle the book sale table.
My job includes inviting the women poets, this year twenty-nine. If you want to run a similar event—and I encourage you to do so—that's a good number if each poet reads one poem. Invite a few more than you really think is just right because invariably a few drop out. We lost three this year due to illness. Invite poets who live pretty close to the event site. There will be fewer dropouts if the weather is uncooperative. One year we had a hurricane. This year we had snow. Also, poets who live nearby tend to bring more guests for the audience.
I also do PR for the event. Not a big job as this can all be done online. The librarian who works with me on this event sends a press release to local newspapers. I also ask the readers to each reach out and invite guests.
Each year I include some new faces and voices. Some of these new readers are women who've asked to be included; some are women recommended to me. It would be lovely to have everyone back each year, but you need to rotate a bit to keep the event fresh and to keep the total to a reasonable number.
I divide the reading into two parts, with a 15-minute break in the middle. That gives everyone a chance to browse the books and buy some. For the first few Girl Talks I invited all the readers with books to include one title for sale. However, starting last year I limited the book titles to more recent ones so the sale would be more manageable for the volunteers. This seemed to stimulate more rather than fewer sales. Fewer choices make for easier decisions? To stimulate book sales, each year I contribute copies of a craft book or anthology for a lottery. For each book a person buys, she puts her name in the basket. At the end of the day, there's a drawing. This year I gave away five copies of Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry.
I welcome the audience and introduce each poet. I do not give bios as I want the event to move along. However, bios are posted at the Girl Talk webpage.
Following the reading, the bakers go into the kitchen and bring out the cookies for the Reception. Our approximately 80 guests are all invited to stay and enjoy the cookies and engage in some poetry conversation. More books are purchased and books are signed. Guess who goes home with the leftover cookies? Me.
Here are some photos to give a sense of the day.
|Crowd gathering before the reading. We filled the room. How lovely for poets to have a full room.|
|Jean Meyers waiting to read. I met her years ago in a Dodge Poetry Workshop.|
Sandra Duguid signing her just released first book!